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So I'm trying to write a story about a 24 year old girl with repressed memories of abuse.
The effects of the repressed memories hinder a normal, happy lifestyle. She has a full-time job after completing an undergraduate degree but it's her social relationships that she struggles with. She's got no boyfriend or partner, has no contact with her family and has two or three close friends with a few more from work. She probably spend most of her time with her horse as she communicates with animals better than with people (it'll be at these points that I'll draw her own feelings out as it'll be in 3rd person).
Essentially, she's going to try and dig up her repressed memories so that she can confront them and move on.

Good idea? Too sad? Boring?
I'd love your opinions.
I think that's a really clever idea. You've good plenty to write about, something that will entice the reader to the very end (uncovering the memories) and an interesting protagonist.
I think fleshing our her character will be very difficult in case it ends up sounding contrived but if you do it well then this'll be a brilliant story.
RADI0 Mouse's avatar

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I think it's a wonderful idea that can be done well, and that can also be too sad or absolutely boring, depending on how you write it.

I advise a lot of research - even if you have personal experience with this, you will need to know of many other ways in which this manifests.

What's her motivation for confronting her terrors? Is there a specific aim in mind for her, or has the tension of repressing it caused her to want to overcome it?
Thanks for the help guys, really appreciate it!
Spike Salad, I'll be working on her character for a long time before I begin writing. I've been researching abuse sufferers and I think she'll have a very distinct personality when alone (childlike, calm, shallow) and when with others (awkward, quiet, hard-working). Hopefully I'll be able to make this show.
RADI0 Mouse, her motivation will be wanting to settle down to a relaxed life. Her past experiences affect her sleep and cause her to have nightmares, this causes her constant stress. In her mind, if she confronts her past, the dreams will stop and she'll be happy. So really it's the tension causing her to do this but she wants to do it for herself, because she recognises a need to be happy with herself before she pursues relationships and a proper career.
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It's a premise, not a plot. It needs more to be a plot.

Also, research horses if she communicates better with them than with people.
I_Write_Ivre
It's a premise, not a plot. It needs more to be a plot.

Also, research horses if she communicates better with them than with people.


I should have been clearer, I meant plot idea.
I've got a lot of experiences with horses so I think I'll use my experiences to inform my writing when it comes to them.
Kita-Ysabell's avatar

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Hoo boy.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this premise, particularly, but...

Repressed memories. Man.

The problem is... that's a controversial subject, and a lot of what you hear about it (repressed memories of satanic rituals!) is utter horse s**t. You do not want to contribute to said horse s**t.

We used to have a resident psychology buff (credentials and everything!) but I don't know where she's got off to. So here's some things to remember:

First off, the human mind is not good at repression. Unless we have amnesia, we don't forget easily, and what isn't forgotten has a way of popping up. Denial is a defense reaction, but when Freud came up with those, he way overestimated its importance.

Make sure to look into PTSD, and find good sources. It's the basic framework of how we deal with traumatic events. I would also recommend reading Susan Griffin's A Chorus of Stones. Griffin may not be a psychologist, but she does her research and, well, it's nonfiction. Also amazingly insightful, and a good example of how to write about what might be called "repressed memories" without sounding like an Oprah special.
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Kita-Ysabell

First off, the human mind is not good at repression. Unless we have amnesia, we don't forget easily, and what isn't forgotten has a way of popping up. Denial is a defense reaction, but when Freud came up with those, he way overestimated its importance.

He also pulled it out of his a**.

Now, my friend had repressed memories, but as you said, they had a habit of coming back and that ******** her over for years. She was in therapy for years because her psychiatrist didn't want to accidentally 'lead' her to false memories (which happens a lot when people claim false memories or the medial practitioner doesn't know what they're doing.

I take it the OP doesn't want years of not getting anywhere because the psychiatrist won't push her in any direction.
Kita-Ysabell
Hoo boy.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this premise, particularly, but...

Repressed memories. Man.

The problem is... that's a controversial subject, and a lot of what you hear about it (repressed memories of satanic rituals!) is utter horse s**t. You do not want to contribute to said horse s**t.

We used to have a resident psychology buff (credentials and everything!) but I don't know where she's got off to. So here's some things to remember:

First off, the human mind is not good at repression. Unless we have amnesia, we don't forget easily, and what isn't forgotten has a way of popping up. Denial is a defense reaction, but when Freud came up with those, he way overestimated its importance.

Make sure to look into PTSD, and find good sources. It's the basic framework of how we deal with traumatic events. I would also recommend reading Susan Griffin's A Chorus of Stones. Griffin may not be a psychologist, but she does her research and, well, it's nonfiction. Also amazingly insightful, and a good example of how to write about what might be called "repressed memories" without sounding like an Oprah special.


Hey there smile Thanks for your input.
I'm just finishing up a degree in psychology so anything mentioned will be religiously researched. I'm also going on to do a masters in forensic psychology with a special emphasis on victim experience.
For this project I'll be using what I've learnt and, also, what I've experienced and nothing said will be taken lightly.
One of the reasons for writing this novel will be to shine a light on the victim experience as there's very little support for them.
I_Write_Ivre
Kita-Ysabell

First off, the human mind is not good at repression. Unless we have amnesia, we don't forget easily, and what isn't forgotten has a way of popping up. Denial is a defense reaction, but when Freud came up with those, he way overestimated its importance.

He also pulled it out of his a**.

Now, my friend had repressed memories, but as you said, they had a habit of coming back and that ******** her over for years. She was in therapy for years because her psychiatrist didn't want to accidentally 'lead' her to false memories (which happens a lot when people claim false memories or the medial practitioner doesn't know what they're doing.

I take it the OP doesn't want years of not getting anywhere because the psychiatrist won't push her in any direction.


I'm leaving any mention of therapy out of this one. Therapy is a whole different issue. I want the character to come to this decision on her own.
The problem with introducing a therapy element into this would require a level of expertise I just don't have.
I won't be using any diagnostic phrasing or even the words "repressed memories" because I've experienced the mis-use of psychological terminology and it's effects. However, my own understanding and research will inform her experiences.
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AllisaNero

I'm leaving any mention of therapy out of this one. Therapy is a whole different issue. I want the character to come to this decision on her own.

that's amazingly difficult for a person to do and coming from a narrator withno psychological background, it'd come off as utter horseshit. Really. No matter what she does to decide 'I have repressed memories' coming form just so schmuck it'll sound like 'I forgot I was abducted by aliens'. A sane person's decision would be 'there is something wrong with me and I need professional help.'

AllisaNero
The problem with introducing a therapy element into this would require a level of expertise I just don't have.

That's what research is for. Trust Kita, she knows what she's talking about.

AllisaNero
I won't be using any diagnostic phrasing or even the words "repressed memories" because I've experienced the mis-use of psychological terminology and it's effects. However, my own understanding and research will inform her experiences.

Any god research would tell you that self-diagnosis of repressed memories is a cry for attention, not an actual condition. Heck, pick up Psychology Today or Scientific American Mind (magazines). they constantly tell you how careful to be around saying 'repressed memories' and self-diagnosis.
I_Write_Ivre

that's amazingly difficult for a person to do and coming from a narrator withno psychological background, it'd come off as utter horseshit. Really. No matter what she does to decide 'I have repressed memories' coming form just so schmuck it'll sound like 'I forgot I was abducted by aliens'. A sane person's decision would be 'there is something wrong with me and I need professional help.'

That's what research is for. Trust Kita, she knows what she's talking about.

Any god research would tell you that self-diagnosis of repressed memories is a cry for attention, not an actual condition. Heck, pick up Psychology Today or Scientific American Mind (magazines). they constantly tell you how careful to be around saying 'repressed memories' and self-diagnosis.


I think you've misunderstood me.
I won't be mentioning psychological terminology because the character won't be saying 'I have repressed memories." She'll experience a number of nightmares and some uncomfortable physical experiences and from that she'll decide to try and confront them.
There will be no diagnosis at all, let alone self diagnosis.

I've done a psychology degree and I'm about to do a masters degree. I have a notable psychological background so I'd be extremely disappointed in myself if anything I wrote came across as 'utter horseshit'. I apologise if I come off slightly rude here but I know what Psychology Today is, I know what repressed memories are and, above all, I know how dangerous self-diagnosis can be.
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AllisaNero

I won't be mentioning psychological terminology because the character won't be saying 'I have repressed memories." She'll experience a number of nightmares and some uncomfortable physical experiences and from that she'll decide to try and confront them.
There will be no diagnosis at all, let alone self diagnosis.

I'm confused. First, if she decides to confront them, isn't that a diagnosis?

Second, why is this in the CB?

AllisaNero
I've done a psychology degree and I'm about to do a masters degree. I have a notable psychological background so I'd be extremely disappointed in myself if anything I wrote came across as 'utter horseshit'. I apologise if I come off slightly rude here but I know what Psychology Today is, I know what repressed memories are and, above all, I know how dangerous self-diagnosis can be.

Okay, that part is good and makes sense. I didn't know you were that up on research. I didn't mean to seem rude either, I didn't know how much research you had done and tried to steer you away from 'none'.
I_Write_Ivre
AllisaNero

I won't be mentioning psychological terminology because the character won't be saying 'I have repressed memories." She'll experience a number of nightmares and some uncomfortable physical experiences and from that she'll decide to try and confront them.
There will be no diagnosis at all, let alone self diagnosis.

I'm confused. First, if she decides to confront them, isn't that a diagnosis?

Second, why is this in the CB?

AllisaNero
I've done a psychology degree and I'm about to do a masters degree. I have a notable psychological background so I'd be extremely disappointed in myself if anything I wrote came across as 'utter horseshit'. I apologise if I come off slightly rude here but I know what Psychology Today is, I know what repressed memories are and, above all, I know how dangerous self-diagnosis can be.

Okay, that part is good and makes sense. I didn't know you were that up on research. I didn't mean to seem rude either, I didn't know how much research you had done and tried to steer you away from 'none'.


No worries smile and thanks for the questions.
Apparently, this is a repeat thread so it got moved...IDK, weird gaia is weird haha.
She would only be able to obtain a diagnosis if she met with the criteria in the diagnostics manual. She isn't suffering from a disorder or specific illness so she can't really be diagnosed. This is another reason I want to write the novel, to put a spotlight on the subjective nature of diagnostics in psychology. My own experience with psychological diagnosis could wreak havoc on an individual. The focus has to be on her experiences only, unblemished by the influence of authorities like doctors.
I want to give the reader the impression that she's on a personal journey and her nature means she doesn't share her feelings very often, it would be out of character for her to seek professional help.
Also, the need to seek professional help isn't always very strong in those who might need it most. I should probably point out that she's not crazy or severely impaired by these memories, they've just left her with a lot of questions she'd like answers to so that she can take control of her life.
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I_Write_Ivre
Second, why is this in the CB?
I don't know. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to put in WF to me and it wasn't getting off-topic or anything.

WF: where mod skills go to die. First we were completely neglected, and now things get thrown to the graveyard of CB for no reason.

To the OP: I'm glad to hear you're informed on the subject. It sounds like you have more training than I, so I will defer to your knowledge.

I'm still having difficulty with the idea of the main character going through the memory recovery thing without professional assistance, but I guess that might be where Griffin comes in, a bit. The more I hear about your idea, the more I think you would benefit from reading A Chorus of Stone.

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